Four Edmonton churches struggling with attendance and maintaining their buildings have all come together under one roof.
The hope is to unite and get a fresh start after a challenging few years.
“Spirit of Hope United Church has been in a process of amalgamating four congregations for the last few years,” Rev. Blaine Gregg said. “The final step of that was to renovate the building the congregation chose as its home.”
Gregg said low attendance and the cost of maintaining some of the other buildings made it difficult for this group of churches. Something had to be done, he said.
“There were a number of south Edmonton churches that were interested in potentially forging new relationships and moving forward as a church in a new way,” said Susan Bramm with Spirit of Hope United Church leadership team.
Out of the Ritchie, Knox-Metropolitan, Pleasantview and Avonmore United churches, Avonmore was chosen as the main location to gather.
But renovations were needed, and paying for this project wasn’t cheap.
“Two of the found congregation’s building were sold and as a result, that formed a fund for which we could draw on for the transition process itself, the building and also for innovative programing,” Bramm said.
The roughly $3-million renovation included upgrading the building’s sanctuary space, adding a commercial kitchen, elevator and more.
The massive overhaul limited its members’ use of the building for roughly one year during its construction.
“We were able to use the far wing of the church, the gymnasium part, for a good chunk of that time, but for a while we were meeting outside in the park last summer,” Gregg said.
Worshipers are now back enjoying the changes, which they say is bringing new life and excitement to this unified church.
“I think it’s really excellent the deliberate way that the groups have come together and been able to form and improve this space for the community and for the congregation,” Spirit of Hope United Church member Brian Gue said.
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